UH Moment

UH Moment: “Pop Music”

Pop music may be the soundtrack to our lives, but is it also the history of our lives?  Listen to this week’s UH Moment.

Music may be loud, long-haired, toe-tapping or too slow, but University of Houston sociology Professor Joe Kotarba says pop music conveys a lot about a society.

Understanding Culture Through Pop Music cover “Popular music tells us a lot about the family, about gender relations, about minority dominant group relations, about adolescence.”   

Kotarba, who co-wrote the book “Understanding Society Through Popular Music” (you can take a peek inside the book here),explains that your critical view of your teenager’s attitude becomes a criticism of his Linkin Park CD.  Listening to “Rock en Español” becomes your celebration of your language.  Heading to an outdoor venue to hear Cheap Trick or Steve Winwood becomes a welcoming visit with middle age.

“One of the most powerful aspects of popular music is the way audiences experience it as belonging to them,” Kotarba explained.  “It’s not just out there to be appreciated; this is my music.”

Pop music is woven into Kotarba’s sociology classes.  It is no surprise the topic is well received.   

Bruce Springsteen in concert“Popular music has a lot of messages and it’s useful sociologically because everybody loves popular music,” he said.   

Joe Kotarba and pop music are part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.